Getting the Sleep You Need
Insomnia is when you can’t fall asleep (“nighttime insomnia”) or you can’t stay asleep (“morning insomnia”).
Acute insomnia is when you’re having trouble sleeping due to a recent traumatic shock experience (stress).
Chronic insomnia is when you have trouble sleeping more than twice a week for more than 3 months
Insomnia isn’t when you can’t sleep because you keep getting woken up.
It’s when you can’t sleep even if you get rid of all distractions, like light, noise, stimulants and sedatives, heavy meals, uncomfortable bed, poor routine/schedule/habits, discomfort from pain or restless leg syndrome or apnea, and all the other things we blame for our sleeplessness.
So insomnia is when you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep during the time when you should be sleeping.
The result of not getting the sleep you need is fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.
You might start to feel anxiousness, dread, or panic at just the prospect of not sleeping. Your anxiety and insomnia can feed each other and become a cycle as you lay awake at night freaking out about how little sleep you’re getting and how tired you’re going to be at your important event tomorrow.
Not getting the sleep you need will produce physical health problems within days. Psychologically, you can last up to a week without sleep …but then you’re going to have a complete mental breakdown.
Why Conventional and Most Alternative Health Approaches Don’t Work
The current health paradigm doesn’t understand how sleep works.
Sleep isn’t the absence of wakefulness, and wakefulness isn’t the absence of sleep. Nor are wakefulness and sleep a matter of turning your brain on or off.
Sleep is a complex process of resolving and healing the stresses you experienced during the waking part of your day.
Insomnia occurs when you’re working through a big traumatic stress experience. It also occurs when you’re recovering and repairing your body after you’ve worked through a big traumatic stress experience.
These are emergency biological response mechanisms, and trying to interfere with them can easily make insomnia worse.
We live in a time dominated by a mechanistic understanding of the natural world. So the research and treatment remain focused on trying to turn your brain on and off according to a “normal” schedule, regardless of your current biological needs.
Medications for insomnia try to disrupt brain chemicals and turn your brain off, in the belief that sleep is the absence of wakefulness. Some newer medical approaches try to disrupt your sleep urges during the day in the belief that being awake is the absence of sleepiness.
Either way, these kinds of brain-chemistry-disrupting treatments can be helpful if you’re suffering acute insomnia due to a recent traumatic stress …but they should never be used for chronic insomnia because they are addictive, have unhealthy side effects, and it’s difficult to come off these meds.
Is There Any True Cure?
The best treatments for insomnia focus on lifestyle changes, self-discipline, and even cognitive behavioural therapy. However, these treatments don’t work by forcing your body into a “normal” rhythm.
In fact, trying to force yourself to be normal is actually the CAUSE of insomnia!
The real reason that conventional and most alternative treatments for insomnia “work” – if they work – is because they can give you a burst of self-confidence that empowers you to take control of your time for your own personal, selfish reasons …instead of trying to be normal.
Listen to “Mind Over Insomnia: Stop Counting Sheep and Get the Z’s You Need” to discover how to build a schedule around YOUR “normal sleep system,” so you can feel great and love your life.